It’s a Divertissement_Bridging Past, Present and Future

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It’s a Divertissement_Bridging Past, Present and Future

Vito Distante & Matteo Cecchi as +/- atelier


Who influences you graphically?

We think that the biggest influence comes from what we see around us and from our roots. I (Vito Distante) am from the south of Italy and the architecture and materials of my home town is always on my mind: neat and clear volumes made of stone, light colors, terrific and dramatic contrast between light and dark and empty spaces as in De Chirico scenes.

The famous representation of the city from Renaissance Masters influenced us as well, over all for the composition and balance of volumes (e.g. La Città ideale, 1480-1490).

But, of course, we look around to see and catch what happens in the architectural world.

I (Matteo Cecchi) think that there isn’t a specific someone who had influenced us, even if we take our inspiration from the current architectural scene, art and the world around us. In our graphic composition we try to describe in the best graphical way what appeared in our mind once we thought about the project, from the begin to the end of the process. Our images look different every time (colors, atmosphere, representation) depending on the different techniques we use but also on the aim of every single project; in spite of this we always try to put inside our work some characteristic element that could represent us and that could be considered as a mark.

You talk about your images swinging in-between (iper)realism and naïf representation, how does this reflect your approach to architecture? 

For each project we try to find the best way to represent it. This comes after we define the whole project and usually renderings originate from a big amount of study sketches from which we choose the ones that can be “transformed” into something else and are more “presentable”. Anyway during the process we have in mind the more photogenic point of our work and we help them to jump out.

As we love to define everything (from plans to study sketches) drawing by hand, our approach may be called “classic”.

Starting from this “classic” approach we try the to give a “new graphic cut/dress” to our projects not only giving a real effect, which often won’t be so in the reality, but donating a light-dreamy atmosphere that could increase the imagination of the viewer.

What is the effect and purpose of juxtaposing people which belong to diverse narratives (as this of Vettriano) -space and time- within the images?

It’s a divertissement. We take our work (and architecture) seriously,(even if we have a reasonable amount of irony and madness), but we like to add something that, at first sight, doesn’t match with the image. Only after a while you notice that that particular element is not so odd in the composition and, viceversa, fits well (Vettriano’s figures for the colors, the early XX century men in Florim Pavilion for their pose) in our “realaïf” drawings.

This particular way to insert characters in the images has been chosen not only for irony but also to create a bridge between present (the images) future (the project) and the past (the characters). All the characters we insert in our works are taken from important categories of our historical background: paintings of famous artists, fashion catalogues of different eras taken from the New York library catalogues, artistic posters and historic articles.

What dictated the choice of views selected for the Lighthouse Sea hotel? What elements were vital when looking at composition of an image?

It all started with the rendering of the panoramic terrace: the whole project, regarding the brand new additions, is very linear and has simple and neat volumes. The panoramic terrace is a composition of vertical and horizontal plans with a clear symmetry: this almost forced us to proceed in that way.

So, symmetry has been one of our element.

The dreamlike look, as well, came to mind. This is linked to what we said before regarding our influences: De Chirico, Renaissance painters and the architecture we keep in our heart.

To what extent might the format of the proposal as a narrative of a person venturing to the hotel and staying there influence the way the proposal is perceived by the viewer?

Representing our project with the point of view of a user helped us to “fall” into the project and walk inside it. This convinced us to proceed in this way because, in our opinion, it was the clearer way to show what we did and what we had in mind.

Renderings are like a promenade around the intervention: you see entrance of the housing module, you go in and see a room, you go outside and see the front facing the sea, you pass through the entrance porch and follow the path so you can see the existing building. At last by following the path, you reach the panoramic terrace and stay.


Lighthouse Sea Hotel – Lighthouse Bike Resort

The aim of the project is to keep the actual feature of the area.
After a deep analysis about the touristic requirements of Siracusa, it was clear that the touristic bike tours are constantly growing, both in Sicily and in the rest of Europe.
So the project consists in revamping the lighthouse complex as a resort for bikers to link Siracusa with the existing routes and to increase the opportunities of future tourism.
All these considerations led to the design of five housing modules and a panoramic terrace organized in a Cartesian way and symbolically linked by a bridge as privileged viewpoint.
These architectural objects are connected by long paths with a double purpose: to keep new buildings out of lighthouse sight and to have better panoramas. The existing buildings house the communal areas keeping the previous volumes. Restaurant is located in the main building, while in the annex there are the reception, the bike workshop and a café.
The five housing modules are arranged in a row to be wide open to the sea. Each one has a secure bike parking and a deck. Their neat design meets the coloured clay brise-soleil that shade the rooms and guarantee privacy.
The panoramic terrace, composed of walls, deck and a pool, occupies the further point of the project: this place allows several activities to occur (e.g. yoga lessons, theatre performances etc.).
A curved bridge ends the project and brings people into the landscape


Renovation of a Lighthouse in Siracusa, Sicily


Renovation of a Lighthouse in Siracusa, Sicily


Renovation of a Lighthouse in Siracusa, Sicily


Renovation of a Lighthouse in Siracusa, Sicily


Renovation of a Lighthouse in Siracusa, Sicily


Renovation of a Lighthouse in Siracusa, Sicily

“Sahdowplay”, competition proposal for a temporary pavilion in Florim showroom, Exhib-it! Contest, Milano, 2016

 The idea of the project is to abstract the maximum volume allowed by the competition brief. This will took form as a pavilion shaped as an empty solid drawn in its main lines: the space of this “box” is occupied by three elliptical cylinder where the selected photos are shown. These three floating shells, made of fabric, receive the guest and close him off to let him see the pictures. This particular way to show pictures has been chosen to put the audience in a private and intimate space, where it can see how Florim’s products have been used. The tubes used for the structure stand for the temporary nature of the installation and in the same time give a prominent role to a technology used in building sites. The edges of the box open towards the showroom and the shopwindows to let guests flow through this architectural object: in this way the audience make the installation live due to its movements and presence among the shells. The hanging cylinders, fixed to a steel cables net by sailing ropes, have a white canvas cladding where pictures are printed on. Between the fabric layers two LED strips light the volumes up abstracting them from the steel structure and transforming the installation, during night time, into a bright object that intrigues with its shapes.


“Sahdowplay”, competition proposal for a temporary pavilion in Florim showroom, Exhib-it! Contest, Milano, 2016

Blend – Imagining the New Addition to the County Theater

The proposal for the new addition’s facade follows the goal to be in relation with the historic theater without imitating it.

The facade is divided into two parts: a glazed base and an upper ceramic screen. The base, aligned with the existing entrance doors’ height, is the link between the public space and the lobby of the addition. In the middle of this “glazed plinth” a video-wall can meet several functions: showing the movie schedule, informing for local events, act as backdrop during Arts Festival.

The upper concave screen (that calls to mind a projection screen) is a “ceramic skin” made of listels fixed to a white painted metal structure. The street facing side of the listels is white, while the sides are blue and yellow and they are arranged in a way to create a transition from or to the existing County Theater depending of the point of view from the street.

Walking along East State St. from the ice-cream shop to the theater the ceramic facade blends into yellow, viceversa, walking from the theater to the ice-cream shop the facade blends into blue.

The concavity of the “ceramic skin” and the consequent set back of the glazed base allow to increase the sidewalk width: this feature would enhance pedestrian experience and also would create an external “stage” for local artists’ performances


Extension of County Theater in Doylestown, PA, USA,



+/- atelier is a project that started in 2016 from the vision of two young architects, Matteo Cecchi and Vito Distante.
+/- atelier’s works try to explore new ways to think, make and represent architecture, keeping the link with the historical teaching of architecture. Its aim is to mix Italian culture and architectural tradition with the different input and incentive coming from the contemporary architectural scene.
In +/- atelier, founders’ experiences meet and influence the vision of architecture giving a particular touch in every project the firm takes part.

+/- atelier is a globe-trotter practice based in Florence, Italy

Matteo Cecchi, born in 1984, graduated at Università degli Studi di Firenze with the thesis “Arkan: Mosque and islamic cultural Centre”. In 2013 was intern for the Chilean Alejandro Aravena’s practice Elemental. From 2013 to 2016 worked for the Architectural firm “Studio Baciocchi for Prada” as member of the project team of Prada’s private houses.

Vito Distante, born in 1985, grew up in Lecce and studied architecture at Università degli Studi di Firenze where he graduated with a thesis on an Orthodox Cultural Centre in 2011.
From 2012 to 2015 he worked in a firm based in Florence as architect and project manager following high-end retail projects and residential projects, joining UAE and Shanghai branches.



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